Diversity – gender, ethnicity, disability, nationality etc. – has become both a condition and objective of our collective lives. Our society is becoming more diverse. At the same time, diversity is now the new orthodoxy of the modern. In putting forward a new set of values that encourages us to acknowledge and appreciate differences and to create an inclusive environment, a number of projects have been initiated in various realms.
This symposium focuses primary on diversity in a uniquely urban context. Bringing together scholars, city officials, urban designers, social workers, and practitioners, the symposium aims at creating a platform for discussing the challenges and possible directions for creating a city that is truly inclusive and reflects the aspirations, values and principles of today’s diverse society.
A city constitutes itself as an interesting locus of observation when thinking about the challenges for diversity. A city is often the focal point of the cross-border, cross-sectoral and cross-cultural activities that have been intensified in the past few decades vis-à-vis the process of globalization and the ever-expanding global market. A city is also a lieu whereby the diversification of public and private life propels an active pluralization of cultural, religious, ethical and moral principles. At the same time, a city requires for its own instrumental purposes and dynamics some kinds of uniformity and orderliness, which are often addressed and implemented through the rationalist and modernist approach to city planning emphasising specialization, sectorialisation, mass production and standardization.
This rendering of unique attributes of city invariably specifies some key themes for discussion: the intersection between the realm of city planning, (re)organisation of city space, and policy implementation, and the realm of community-based projects which address to the qualitative enframing, to the state of mind, in order to challenge biases, stereotypes, and prejudices that hinder the creation of an inclusive society. How can we transform the city as an epitome of modern inclusive and diverse society? What are the challenges and issues that are distinctive of metropolis like Tokyo and Berlin? How should we promote diversity as a part of, or as a new engineering force of, the already existing dynamics of the city? How can we create a locus, whereby differences are understood not in terms of societal and sectorial boundaries, but in terms of positively unique attributes that enrich and energise the city? How must we change our attitude and approach to the structuring of the collective, to the spatial (both physical and imaginative), and to the mind vis-à-vis urban design and city planning?